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More Apple Censorship News; Apple is Not Censoring the Word Jailbreak, Just the Search for It

by on19 May 2012 2320 times

English_langSo yesterday (Friday May 18th) we heard that Apple was censoring the word “jailbreak” in iTunes and the App Store. This was reported by a few sites and seemed to be rather odd after the backlash from the obvious censoring of a single search string when using Apple’s Siri Voice Assistant. When we ran the story on Siri we had a rather large and enthusiastic response to the article. The one thing that many people kept trying to say was that Apple did not alter the results, but more on that after we talk about the jailbreak issue.

After we read about this we decided to do several searches using an iPhone, iPad and iTunes for PC. In all cases we found the uncensored work Jailbreak movies, TV, Music and even apps and games. There was no censoring of the word (some claimed it came back as J*******k, but this was not the case in any of the searches we performed).
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Even a search on Apple’s website did not censor the actual work displayed, although it did not return any results for the term (perhaps that is what people mean). We do know that jailbreaking your iPhone is something that Apple does not like. In fact they hate it so much they wanted the mere act of doing it to be a criminal exercise. However it seems that even they know that making censoring the word would simply not go over well.

So it looks like, in this case, Apple is not censoring the word as long as it relates to music, movies, TV, and apps that they offer through iTunes. They are (and really always have) removed any references to jailbreak from their support forums and will delete posts that ask about it. This makes sense as they do not support or even condone the action.

It is possible that when someone updated the search filters on Apple's site they extended them to censoring the actual word as if it were profanity and not just preventing people from searching for technical information on the activity.
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Getting back to the other comment that we had on our article about Siri; many people claim that Apple did not alter the search results. Now this is both true and blatantly false. In the world of semantics it is true. The “search” results from WolframAlpha are still the same, when you perform a search using the string “what is the best smart phone ever” on Wolfram’s site you get the Nokia Lumia 900.

Now in reality (where the rest of us live) what Apple has done is preprogramed a response to that particular string. This is a reprograming of Siri’s back end servers to give a different response to the question. Some have claimed that if you put the words WolframAlpha or Google in front of that question it will return results from the actual search engines, (Siri sees adding those as commands to purposefully look at those search engines).  This type of manipulation is still wrong on so many levels; mostly due to the way that Siri is marketed. To take it directly from Apple’s website:

“Siri on iPhone 4S lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. Ask Siri to do things just by talking the way you talk. Siri understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. Siri is so easy to use and does so much, you’ll keep finding more and more ways to use it.”

Even more interestingly:

“Siri not only understands what you say, it’s smart enough to know what you mean. So when you ask “Any good burger joints around here?” Siri will reply “I found a number of burger restaurants near you.” Then you can say “Hmm. How about tacos?” Siri remembers that you just asked about restaurants, so it will look for Mexican restaurants in the neighborhood. And Siri is proactive, so it will question you until it finds what you’re looking for.”

 

“When there’s something you need to do, just ask Siri to help you do it. Siri uses almost all the built-in apps on iPhone 4S. It writes and sends email messages and texts. It searches the web for anything you need to know. It plays the songs you want to hear. It gives you directions and shows you around. It places calls, schedules meetings, helps you remember, and wakes you up. In fact, ask Siri what it can do — it even speaks for itself”


So here we see that Apple is saying that Siri “searches the web for anything you need to know” So why would it preprogram in a response to a question like this?

What Apple has done amounts to this; if you ask me the question “what is the world’s fastest production car?” and I reply “The Ford Mustang” without looking for the answer I have provided you with false information. I have not changed the real facts, but I have inserted an incorrect answer and told you wrong information. If you ask me “hey can you look up what the world’s fastest production car is?” then you are telling me to actually look it up and find the answer.  The actual answer to that is in dispute, but many say it is the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport for its top speed of 253MPH just in case you were wondering.

The reason this is wrong is that it is like false advertising in the example above about the fastest car many feel that Bugatti took advantage of the claim that it is the “world’s fastest” to gain more sales. This is in light of the fact that two other production cars have recorded speeds that are faster (the SCC Ultimate Aero at 255MPH and the 9ff GT9 at 254.1MPH). This is what Apple is doing here; they are providing a false claim to the question. They are going around what they claim Siri does; “searches the web for anything you need to know” and in turn providing their answer. You have to specifically ask Siri to search for the answer to get a different result.

This shows a serious issue in corporate mentality and one that Google got in trouble for by stacking search results. The fact that Apple was caught changing this one item brings the question to mind “what else are they sending a canned response for?” So while people might want to minimize this issue it is only one in a larger picture where Apple has been caught working to fix eBook prices, pushed patents through that have evidence of Prior art (like the virtual keyboard that has been around since 1998…), minimized the impact of battery issues in their devices (and required gag orders before settling with people that had real issues), masqueraded as police investigators, and more.

Apple’s shiny image as a consumer friendly company is beginning to fade and crack. There will be people that will try to keep it polished, but this simply cannot last. The do make pretty good products, but they spin they place on them is very disproportionate to what they really are and events like these really highlight the fact that Apple is prepared to attempt to perpetrate a false appearance of their products and company to make more money off of the consumer. This is something that we do not like and will continue to call them out on; just like we have with Intel, Microsoft, AMD, nVidia, even other media outlets, and many other companies that have been caught trying to push incorrect information out to the public.

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Last modified on 19 May 2012
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